Midwest Musings: Romantic Times Convention

capitolJust returned from my first Romantic Times Convention in Kansas City. Though the calendar told me it was early May, the weather outside was more February. Maybe you, too, got hit by the sudden snowfall? It broke records all over the place. Fortunately, my two travel days didn’t involve the white stuff, and I was indoors the entire time there, so other than regretting not having packed a heavier sweater, I escaped the worst of it. Thank you, Westin Hotel, for providing your guests with comfy, microsuede bathrobes.

Okay, weather report aside, RT13 was memorable for me in other ways as well. It was my first time attending an event like this as a published author. How did that feel? Truthfully, not much different than I felt at past RWA conferences, EXCEPT my goal this time wasn’t to find an agent or publisher interested in my work. This time I was there to meet readers and introduce them to Barbara Barrett. I found myself smiling more than ever before, and it wasn’t because I was trying to come across as friendly and approachable. Well, maybe that’s how it started, but it didn’t take long before I realized what a freeing action it is to open up like that. The more I did it, the more others returned the same.

When it came to meeting people and starting conversations, that old nugget, asking questions, really worked. Two standbys, overused as they might sound, got things started almost every time: “Is this your first RT?” and “Where are you from?” Almost every time, I found we had something in common and that provided the follow-up questions.

These conversations alone were worth the cost of registration, but I got so much more from the convention. For one thing, I met up with fellow authors Linda Joyce, Jill James and Barbara Bettis from The Wild Rose Press. Although many of us are online with each other frequently, this was a huge opportunity to meet each other in person. Since most of the “Roses” I ran into were first-time authors or first time with TWRP, we exchanged a lot of information and advice. It was like a mini-retreat.  RT ExpoRT wall of banners

I also participated in RTEXPO13, an event geared totally toward ebook authors, self-pubs, and graphic authors. The participants were placed alphabetically by last name. I wound up between an author who writes erotica and one who does paranormal and Young Adult. When I wasn’t talking to attendees, it was an education to observe them interacting with their readers. Some aspects of their genres are radically different from what I write, and yet I was more impressed with the commonalities we shared: a compelling story and a story well-told.RT Barb at Expo

The promotional industry received a big boost from authors’ “swag” at this event. I thought I was doing about as much as my limited budget could tolerate to bring business cards, rack cards, post cards, candy wrapped in my book covers, and toy kaleidoscopes, also wrapped in my book covers. If you check out the picture, my half-table display looked pretty good, especially when I got up the nerve to dress in a chef jacket, hat and apron that matched the purple cover of And He Cooks Too.  I had nothing on the beads, jewelry, eyemasks, handcuffs, screensavers, fingernail files, etc. others brought. I would be interested in seeing a study analyzing the relationship of sales to swag given away. Fascinating. And those were nothing compared to the life-sized posters mounted on every wall and elevator.

Despite the information and fun-packed schedule of RT, each time I returned to my hotel room, the one overriding thought on my mind was how much I wanted to get back to my writing. In the end, it’s all about the relationship I have with my laptop and my stories.

AndHeCooksToo_7346_7509781440556463 The Sleepover Clause

Photo by Leslie Sloan

Photo by Leslie Sloan

10 responses to “Midwest Musings: Romantic Times Convention

  1. Barbara, it was so awesome to meet my fellow Roses. I enjoyed dinner with you and Linda very much. Your expo table looks awesome, sorry I didn’t leave my spot and look around.

  2. So jealous! I’ve never been to a conference. Just can’t see spending that kind of money at this point in my life/career. But oh how I want to! And it sounds as if the cost is well worth it. Can’t wait to have a little extra spending cash not set aside for a visit to my daughter in Germany. Hey, maybe she’ll come home for good next year…or the year after. 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Lilly, You’re right, it is a big investment, and at first it may seem like the return on it is negligible. I’ll have to see in future months if this paid off. But for right now, I know it felt so great to meet so many people who love to read romance.

  3. Thanks for checking out my blog, Jill. RT was an interesting experience, and I’m glad I got to meet you and Linda. I’m glad I decided to participate in the Expo. Hope you liked it as well.

  4. Hi Barbara,
    Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I would have loved to have been able to come, but Australia is a tad too far away. Must have bene wonderful meeting up with fellow roses there.



    • Sorry you weren’t able to make it, Margaret. It was a great time, although I didn’t get “brave” and attend one of the parties, Heather Graham’s Vampire Party, until my last night there. I wasn’t sure what to expect, because I hadn’t brought a costume, but I was actually overdressed in good black slacks and a fancy blouse. Turned out to be a full dinner; didn’t expect that. Barbara

  5. Barbara: so sorry I didn’t get together with you!! Wish I’d had a microsuede bathrobe! I wore my windbreaker the last 2 days. I found that if you talk to people, whether you know them or not, they are happy to talk to you.

  6. Barbara,

    You looked sooo great in your Chef suit. It a great way to bring positive attention to your book.

    I enjoyed our time together…lucky for us, we didn’t have to brave the freak storm that blanketed KC. I am looking forward to RT14 in New Orleans. Are you going to join me?


    Linda Joyce

    • Linda,

      As I look out the window from my office today at the budding trees and oh-so-green grass, it’s hard to believe that just a week ago we were watching the white stuff come down outside the window of the Sheraton’s Exhibit Hall during the EXPO. Like you said, so glad our travel days did not include the white stuff.

      As for RT14, even with the inducement of it being held in New Orleans, I’m not sure yet whether I’ll attend again. There are so many opportunities for meeting readers and for me, only limited funds, to make it happen.

      Thanks for the props on my chef outfit. I’ve grown quite fond of it.


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